Blue Louisa: A blog Covering Central Virginia & national politics from a progressive perspective
Something is not right at the Mineral Post Office!
The Louisa County Democratic Party has had the same post office box at the Mineral Post Office for many years. I generally check our box a couple times per week. We do not receive a large volume of mail, but the first of the month is our high volume period— bank statements, donation checks, etc.
On Nov. 9, I checked the box for the third time that week, and when we still hadn’t received any mail, I decided to talk with the clerk.
I went inside and talked to the clerk and she went to check. She came and told me our box had been closed. I asked why, and she said she did not know, but asked if we had paid our rental fee. I said yes, and another clerk checked the computer list verifying we were paid through March 2019.
I asked who had closed the box, and they said they did not know, as any clerk could have physically closed (blocked) it. I asked when the box was closed. They said they had no way of knowing.
I asked why they didn’t put a notice in the box before it was closed so we (or any renter) would know there was an issue. They had no answer.
I asked where our mail is and they said they were supposed to hold it for 10 days before returning it, but they didn’t know when the box was closed, so they did not know if it had been returned or not.
I asked to speak to the postmaster and I was told he was would return next week.
On Nov. 13, I met with Mineral Postmaster Blain Crickenberger. He admitted our post office box should never have been closed. When asked who closed the box, he said he did not know, as he did not have any one person designated as responsible for post office boxes. Note: The Louisa post office has one employee designated in-charge of post office boxes.
I asked about closure notices, and he admitted we should have received several closure notices starting a month before the box was closed. Note: I learned later they are supposed to provide three notices over four weeks before closing the box.
I asked where our mail was, and he said it should be at the post office, but he did not know where it was. Postmaster Crickenberger commented that this was just some screwup and he would look into it.
For us, this seems to be much more than just a simple screw-up. There appears to be no procedures in place to control and/or monitor postal box activities, our checks and our missing mail have still not been recovered, and the fact this happened during the run-up to a very contentious election adds another level of intrigue.
Your guess is as good as ours as to what actually happened.
We have referred this to the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service for investigation.
As I said at the beginning, Something is not right at the Mineral Post Office!
Chairman, Louisa Democratic Committee
Editor's Note: this letter originally appeared in the December 20th edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author's permission.
In addition, the CV printed an article about this in their December 20th issue, and it is summarized here: Blain Crickenberger, the Mineral postmaster, described the closing as “a simple mistake.” Saying that he still does not know which of his 19 full- and part-time employees closed the box, and that “I’ll probably assign it to one individual [now],”
No one other than the Democratic Committee has complained to the post office that their box was closed without their knowledge, Crickenberger said.
An employee at the Bumpass post office, which has four full-time and two part time staff, said that depending on who’s available, two to three workers handle their post office boxes. And Chris Lloyd, an employee at the Louisa post office, said renters there receive two written notices before a box is blocked. As a courtesy, they hold mail for a period of time after a box is blocked to give the renter a chance to pay what is due.
Schatz said he didn’t know how much mail that should have been delivered wasn’t. Three donors who had mailed checks to the committee had to re-send them because they were never received, Schatz said.
Pete Brown, a special agent for the inspector general in Richmond, said the complaint was likely referred to post office management. It could come back to his agency if there is any evidence of criminal wrongdoing, such as mail tampering.
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